Production Resumes 09/11:
U.S. Steel's Minntac plant said it will resume operation of its No. 3 production line at the end
Also, Cleveland-Cliffs announced that Hibbing Taconite will resume pellet
production Sept. 12 following a temporary shutdown to adjust inventory. Cliffs did not say,
however, when production would resume at its two idled mines in Michigan.
Minntac will begin firing its Line 3 kiln at the end of this month and resume production of flux
taconite pellets on the line about 24 hours later.
"When we took it down, we had some excesses of inventories within the corporation," Minntac
General Manager Jim Swearingen told the Duluth News-Tribune. "Those numbers have come back and
the order book is strong enough where pellets are now needed."
Swearingen cautioned, however, that steel imports continue to threaten the nation's steelmaking
Minntac Mine employs about 1,450 hourly workers and is North America's largest taconite producer. With Line 3 back in operation, Minntac will be operating five agglomerating lines. Those lines can produce more than 14 million tons of flux taconite pellets per year.
Line 3 -- which can produce about 1.6 million tons of taconite pellets annually or roughly 12
percent of Minntac's annual pellet production -- was idled on Oct. 5, 1998, amid record levels of steel imports and increased levels of taconite pellet inventories.
Minntac ships most of its pellets through Two Harbors aboard vessels of USS Great Lakes Fleet.
Hibbing Taconite, shut since Aug. 8 due to steel imports and high pellet inventories, announced it will resume full production Sunday.
"We took the shutdown due to high inventories and the downtime was enough to take the
inventory out," said Dave Gardner, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. spokesman.
The shutdown affected roughly 605 of Hibbing Taconite's 650 hourly workers. Start-up dates for
the Empire and Tilden Mines in Upper Michigan, also idled to reduce pellet inventories, haven't
been determined, said Gardner.
Reported by: Al Miller
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